Individuals who are accused of driving under the influence in Michigan may be asked to take one of two types of breathalyzer tests. While no one can force you to agree to a breathalyzer, refusing to take the test can have consequences. These consequences vary depending on whether you refused a roadside test or a test at the police station.
Michigan’s Implied Consent Law
Michigan’s implied consent law states that all drivers in the state give consent to chemical tests from police officers who suspect that they are driving under the influence. This consent is given when a driver applies for and accepts a driver’s license in the state. These chemical tests include the blood, urine, and breathalyzer tests that are used to determine a driver’s blood-alcohol content (BAC).
However, implied consent only applies after an arrest. Police officers usually administer a preliminary breath test after pulling a driver over on suspicion of drunk driving. If you have been arrested on a drunk driving charge, police may ask for a more accurate chemical test at the station – known as the DataMaster breathalyzer test in Michigan.
What Happens if You Refuse a Preliminary Breathalyzer Test in Michigan?
Refusing a roadside breathalyzer request from a police officer is not a crime in Michigan. However, the state considers refusing to be a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $150, along with other court costs.
There are no other penalties for refusing the test. Your driving record will remain unaffected, without any suspension or points. The fine is on par with a speeding ticket.
The police offer may use the results of a preliminary breath test as probable cause to make a drunk driving arrest, but these results may not be used as evidence at trial.
Consequences of Refusing a Breathalyzer Test
Following a drunk driving arrest in Michigan, you will usually be asked to submit to a chemical test, most commonly, the Datamaster Breathalyzer test, but the officer has the choice to request a blood test. These secondary tests are where the implied consent law comes into play. All licensed Michigan drivers agree to submit to these chemical BAC tests when they receive their licenses.
Those who refuse to take a chemical test face an administrative sanction for violating the implied consent law. A report of refusal is submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State after this charge is filed. You then have 14 days to contest the charge.
If you do not respond to the charge within 14 days, six points are automatically added to your driver’s license and it is suspended for one year. A second refusal within the past seven years carries an automatic two-year license suspension, with no right to an appeal.
Can You Challenge a License Suspension for Refusing a Breathalyzer?
You may appeal a license suspension for violating the implied consent law in Michigan. To do so, you must mail a license suspension appeal to the Secretary of State within 14 days of the refusal charge.
License suspension is often one of the most disruptive penalties for drunk driving and related offenses. If your license has been suspended for violating implied consent or for OWI charges in Michigan, attorney Shaun Marks can guide you through the driver’s license restoration process. Shaun has a 94% restoration rate in these cases.
Should You Ever Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Michigan?
In most cases, it is not worth it to refuse a breathalyzer test in Michigan. Refusing to submit to a preliminary roadside test cannot be used against you, but the arresting officer could still make an arrest even if you do not take the test. They simply need to demonstrate that they had sufficient probable cause even without a failed preliminary breath test.
If the officer does have probable cause, he can bring you to the police station where you will be asked to take the chemical test. Given the higher penalties and the fact that the court could demand a blood sample through a search warrant, refusing to take the DataMaster test is often not worth the consequences. While you have the right to refuse, you will not necessarily avoid the test by doing so.
In some situations, those who refuse these tests are still charged with OWI, along with violation of implied consent.
Learn More About Your Legal Options From Our Michigan Drunk Driving Lawyers
Whether you have been charged with OWI or violating Michigan’s implied consent law, it is important to be aware of your legal options moving forward. Experienced Michigan DUI lawyer Shaun Marks is prepared to build a sound legal strategy based on the facts of your case and represent you throughout the legal process. Call Shaun today at 866-487-2795 for a free case evaluation.
Attorney Shaun Marks had received his Juris Doctor degree with Cum Laude honors from the Detroit College of Law in 1994. He received his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Michigan-Flint. He has served in the U.S. Air force Security Police and as an Assistant city Attorney for the City of Flint. He has also worked in the office of former U.S. Senator Donald Riegle. Attorney Marks has successfully represented thousands of clients in criminal matters in state and federal courts across Michigan.